Is New York losing a piece of our childhood, the summertime rite of passage of catching fireflies?

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Much like other insects and animals, fireflies are facing a host of troubles leading to population declines such as habitat loss, the use of pesticides, and artificial light.

Although the firefly is not extinct, the World Animal Foundation says that if “firefly conservation isn’t able to secure a safe harbor for the species with a limited geographic range, then some species face extinction soon.

Since the firefly population has seen a decline in recent years, we wondered if catching fireflies, a rite of passage for generations of kids, is now illegal in New York.

We couldn’t find anything that specifically says that catching fireflies in New York is illegal. As a matter of fact, what we found was information from Firefly Conservation and Research, a nonprofit organization founded by Ben Pfeiffer, a firefly researcher and certified master naturalist, on how to safely capture fireflies.

The best way to spot fireflies is to look for their flashing light during the night. The best way to find one is to look around long grass, lakes, ponds, streams, and under low-hanging trees in the woods and fields.

Your best chance of seeing a firefly will come if you turn off all of your exterior house lights. Lights confuse fireflies which might be why it’s been a while since you’ve seen any if that’s the case.

When you come across fireflies, you should use a net to catch them and then place them in a jar that has a lid that’s been pierced to allow air. In the jar, you should place a damp paper towel or damp unbleached coffee filter to keep the air in the jar just the way fireflies like it – humid. You want to keep an eye on the paper and replace it every few days so that it doesn’t mold and kill the fireflies.

To feed your fireflies, slice an apple and place the slices inside the jar as the fireflies will drink the juice from the fruit. If you can, also mist the jar every now and then with distilled water to keep the jar moist for the fireflies.

Firefly Conservation Research says you should not keep your fireflies for more than a day or two and that you should release the ones you catch at night when they’re active and able to avoid predators.

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